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How Do I Repair My Home After a Fire or Water Loss?

The thought of experiencing significant damage to your home is terrifying.  Natural disasters such as storms, floods, and fires can cause extensive property damage and leave you overwhelmed in the aftermath.

Water damage is one of the most common forms of property damage because it can happen as a result of weather conditions like rain and flooding or due to internal issues like leaks and overflows.  Whether dealing with a leak or standing flood water, water is dangerous because it gets absorbed in porous building materials and furnishings.  Many porous materials can become permanently damaged from water.  When structural materials like wood and drywall become affected by water, severe structural damage can result.

While house fires are not as common as water damage, they can happen at virtually any time and cause devastating damage.  The damage caused by fire happens in waves as the flames cause damage first, and the remaining smoke, soot, and other corrosive byproducts continue to cause damage once the fire is out.  The flames of a fire cause extensive structural damage that can leave your home unstable and the damage caused by smoke and soot can become permanent without quick cleaning and restoration.

Major fire and water disasters can leave your home in a heavily damaged state.  It is very important for you to take action immediately after one of these disasters occurs to try and limit the damage and get your home rebuilt.  Feeling overwhelmed in the immediate aftermath of a disaster is natural, however, you still need to act quickly.

In this guide, we will cover what you need to do to repair and restore your home after experiencing major fire damage or water damage.  Following these steps will put you on the right path to restoring your home and give you some peace of mind.

Damage Caused by Fire and Water

The amount of damage that occurs as a result of fire or water will vary by case.  It is possible for damage caused by both fire and water to be limited to minor damage that will only require restoration services to repair.  Fire and water can each also cause extensive damage that will require reconstruction services to fix.

Damage Caused by Water

The most dangerous aspect of water is its ability to get absorbed into various building materials and furnishings.  This not only causes water damage to spread over a wider area, but also puts the affected materials at risk of warping, staining, and rotting.  When excessive water damage occurs such as a flood or sewage backup, the affected materials will absorb enough water that structural damage may result.  Mold is another potential issue with water damage as high moisture levels put the affected areas and materials at risk of mold growth.

The amount of water absorption and the presence of mold growth or contaminants in the water are the biggest factors in the extent of the damage.  Significant water absorption will lead to widespread damage and structural issues and the presence of mold and other contaminants will increase the likelihood of permanent damage to the affected materials.

Damage Caused by Fire and Smoke

As mentioned above, fires cause damage in layers as the flames char materials in its path and the smoke and soot left behind tarnish and etch surfaces and materials.  The fire itself is often responsible for immediate structural damage while the smoke and soot will cause permanent damage to affected items and materials.  The extent of the fire and the spread of the smoke and soot are the biggest factors in the extent of the damage.

Choosing to Rebuild Your Home 

In the aftermath of a fire or major flood, it is difficult to tell the extent of the damage.  One thing is for sure, your home is likely to have suffered significant damage and if you don’t act quickly, the damage will only get worse.  You will need to contact a professional who specializes in disaster restoration and reconstruction so they can restore the damage from the fire or water and repair the structural damage.  Finding a professional who provides both will save you the trouble of working with multiple contractors.

Make sure you take the following actions after experiencing fire damage or water damage to get your home repaired:

After Water Damage

  • Call insurance provider: Not all water damage is covered by homeowner’s insurance, including flood damage and water damage caused by neglect. If your home is affected by flooding, document the damage as thoroughly as possible and call your insurance company to inform them of the damage.
  • Turn off power: Indoor flooding creates a very dangerous situation if the electricity is still on. Make sure you cut the power within your home to avoid electric shocks.  Call your utility company if you cannot turn off the power yourself.
  • Start drying: You can start to dry your home in areas that are not affected by standing water by mopping and blot drying. It is best to let professionals remove flood water using advanced extraction equipment.
  • Protect your valuables: If you have valuables in harm’s way, you can remove them and put them somewhere safe. Only do this if you can gather your valuables safely.  Damaged items should be put aside for restoration and cleaning.
  • Call a professional: Make sure you call a water damage restoration professional right away to limit the damage and begin repairs. A reputable disaster restoration professional should be able to handle the removal of the water as well as the rebuilding of your home.

After Fire Damage 

  • Do not enter your home: Fires can leave a home structurally unstable and the smoke can be toxic. It is best to stay out of your home after a fire unless the fire department says it is safe to enter.
  • Call insurance provider: You need to get on the phone with your insurance company right away to inform them of the damage.
  • Clean up debris: If the fire department has given you permission to re-enter your property, you can sweep up debris like broken glass.
  • Do not use utilities: Fire and smoke can cause damage to electronics and electrical equipment and soot may contaminate the HVAC system. Avoid using utilities such as your electricity and heat or air conditioning until your home is repaired.
  • Do not clean soot: Soot is a difficult material to clean and it must be cleaned with the proper methods. Do not attempt to clean soot damaged materials or surfaces because you are likely to make the damage worse.
  • Call a professional: Call a fire damage restoration professional that can restore the damage caused by soot and smoke and repair the structural damage.

Professional Reconstruction in Minnesota

At ServiceMaster Professional Services, we provide reconstruction services following water and fire damage.  Our technicians are trained to handle the restoration of water, fire, and smoke and we are equipped to rebuild homes that have sustained serious damage.

In most situations involving a fire or water loss, the construction repair needed is small enough that very few construction contractors will be interested in bidding on the job, especially when they are busy with other projects.  Our professionals specialize specifically in reconstruction after a loss and we will take any restoration and reconstruction job no matter how small.  We have many years of experience and a 5-year warranty on workmanship.

The rates we use are pre-approved by insurance companies since we use Xactimate for estimating repair costs.  This service allows for a simple handoff from the restoration side to the repair side of the business.

ServiceMaster Professional Services provides disaster restoration and reconstruction services in 32 counties of Minnesota including East Central, Northwoods, South Central, Southwest Minnesota, and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.